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Philips Cineos 32PFL9604H review

Barry de la Rosa
13 Aug 2009
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
999
inc VAT

A feature-packed LCD TV with amazing motion-processing technology, it suffers from dull reds and a high price.

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Specifications

32in, Freeview, 1,920x1,080 resolution, 3D: , 5x HDMI

As the latest HD TV in Philips' Cineos line, the 32PFL9604H has all the features we've come to expect, including network connectivity, HD Natural Motion and a 100Hz refresh rate.

The new model has 802.11g WiFi, as well as the usual Ethernet port, so there's less cabling to worry about. Also new is Philips' Net TV, which gives you a limited choice of online video content. The only content provider you're likely to recognise is YouTube, though.

As well as Net TV's selected content, you can browse the internet. Pages are rendered in 16-bit colour at a resolution of 1,280x720, which is then upscaled to 1,920x1,080 to fill the screen. Text sizes are huge, so you can read them from across your living room, but this means there's little space onscreen. There's no way to tweak the text size to your liking, as you can when browsing the web from a media centre PC. We were able to log into our Google Mail account, with full JavaScript support, but the four-way cursor makes control difficult. You can stream media content over a network from a Digital Living Network Alliance server running on your PC, and there's also a USB slot so you can browse media from a flash drive or portable hard disk.

The Cineos's HD Natural Motion calculates movement between the frames of a movie and generates extra frames to place in between the existing ones. This process makes movement smoother. In addition, the 100Hz technology reduces flicker by displaying more frames per second than most HD TVs.

The results take some getting used to. Those used to watching Blu-ray movies at 24fps will find them less 'film-like' with HD Natural Motion switched on, so we'd advise trying it but turning it off if you don't like it. The 32PFL9604H also has Ambilight, a series of LEDs along the back edges of the TV that mimic the colours at the edge of the display, giving the impression of extending the picture.

Onscreen information is larger than on previous Cineos models, making it easier to see when sitting at a distance. As well as image quality settings, there's a section for Philips' Perfect Pixel technologies. There's even a wizard to help you choose the right settings based on a comparison of a split-screen image.

Freeview quality was good, and the 32PFL9604H did an admirable job of reducing compression artefacts, making everything look sharper. The same is true for DVD films, which use MPEG2 compression, and the TV did a good job of upscaling the DVD video to its 1,920x1,080 resolution. The guide shows what's on now and next, and you can scroll across for later programmes or skip to different days, but you have to press another button to display programme information.

Blu-ray playback was superb, with excellent contrast. However the picture was a bit dark, and increasing the brightness only served to reduce contrast. We found colours to be vibrant, but reds looked a touch oversaturated, with the BBC's logo appearing a little darker than we'd expect. Fine-tuning the Tint controls helped improve the image, but we couldn't entirely eradicate the problem with reds. Gaming tests seemed to back up Philips' claims of a 2ms response time, with sharp fast-moving images.

The 32PFL9604H has loads of features, but its web-browsing and Net TV functions can't compare with those of a budget media center PC such as Acer's £250 Aspire Revo R3600 (Labs, Shopper 259). If previous models are anything to go by, the price will come down quickly, but currently it's expensive for a 32in TV, and you'd have to use every feature to justify the outlay.

Basic Specifications

Rating***

Physical

Viewable size32in
Native resolution1,920x1,080
1080p supportYes
Aspect ratio16:9
HD readyyes
Contrast ratio80,000:1
Brightness500cd/m²
Speakers2x 15W
Bezel (top/side/bottom)38mm/36mm/67mm
Screen depth88mm
Screen elevation129mm
Stand size (WxD)409x216mm

Connections

DVI inputs0
D-sub inputs1
HDMI inputs5
Component inputs1
SCART2
S-Video input1
Composite inputs1
Audio outputs3x stereo phono, coaxial S/PDIF
Otherheadphone output, CI slot, RJ45 LAN (DLNA), USB, stereo phono in

Tuner

Tuner typeFreeview
EPG8-day, Now and Next

Environmental

Power consumption standby0W
Power consumption on60W

Buying Information

Warrantytwo years collect and return
Price£999
Detailswww.philips.co.uk